iOS a hit on planes, but mind your manners please

Aug 4, 2011
Tech

So, who is it I see exactly about getting a refund for some of my recent flights? I am apparently the one iOS user left who didn’t realize that a provider named GoGo has been supplying major airlines like Delta, Virgin and United with Wi-Fi access while you fly. According to the story from Mashable, […]

So, who is it I see exactly about getting a refund for some of my recent flights? I am apparently the one iOS user left who didn’t realize that a provider named GoGo has been supplying major airlines like Delta, Virgin and United with Wi-Fi access while you fly.

According to the story from Mashable, 80 percent of the people that use GoGo do so from an iOS device. I am so rarely the last person to figure out something gadget-related, but now I’m wondering what sort of etiquette will transfer from other public places to the cabin of an airplane.

It’s bad enough, for instance, when people decide that it’s completely reasonable to have a conversation on their two-way radio phones on crowded buses and trains. Not only do I have to listen to one half of a conversation I’m not interested in, but now I have to listen to both parts, too?

While a two-way radio conversation is still unlikely to occur at 30,000 feet, there are several apps that can make phone calls over Wi-Fi networks for both iOS and Android phones. It’s probably only a matter of time before you’re sitting next to someone on a three-hour flight who simply had to make a call.

Words with strangers at 30,000 feet

I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom about this. After all, there are plenty of quiet, rewarding activities you could do with Wi-Fi on a plane. You could keep up a Words With Friends game while you flew next to a friend, or even with another complete stranger who happened to be on your flight. Imagine making friends with former strangers who are impressed with your vocabulary. Or maybe they’d be a sore loser who would stalk you as a way to get back at you for embarrassing them. Either way, sounds like fun to me.

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Most importantly, how would this affect those over-the-shoulder laptop readers everyone flies next to from time to time? If you were watching something from Netflix on your iPad, would strangers finally break down their social anxiety and just ask to share your screen? Or would they continue to creep along until they were practically on top of you staring at your screen while pretending they were looking at something else?

As a society, we’ll certainly have our work cut out for us. It’s difficult enough to maintain civility on short bus and train rides, so to endure the weird things people could manage on a Wi-Fi connection on long flights is worrisome.

But I think it was FDR who famously uttered the phrase, “We have nothing to fear, but someone snooping on our banking websites while we use Wi-Fi in airplanes.” Something like that.

In other words, this is probably for the best. Now I just hope I don’t miss out on the chance to “Bingo” someone in Words with Friends next time I fly.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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